The Crucial Missing Ingredient
Jeffrey Wayne Lewis Knows How to Believe in His People
By Kurt Inderbitzin
Jeffrey Wayne Lewis, at age 50, is an inspiration to the more than 13,000 people he's brought into his network marketing business. He works closely with them, coaches them and, perhaps most importantly, believes in them. In return, they have rewarded him with freedom, confidence and financial success beyond his wildest dreams.
So would you believe that just a few years ago, at age 42, Jeffrey was broke? Without a job, a direction, a single life goal? And that he had been that way, on and off, for most of his adult life?
Held Back By Lack of Direction
"Things just never really came together for me," says Jeffrey; "somehow, I never got ahead."
What was holding him back? It was certainly no lack of talent or business acumen. Far from it: Jeffrey's childhood exploits would have impressed Donald Trump.
"Even as a kid, I understood how to make money, how to sell," he remembers. "In elementary school I was selling pencils and gum. By high school, I was making custom-ordered sandwiches in the morning and selling them that afternoon to my teachers. On weekends, I'd have huge parties with lines half a block long, and everyone who came had to pay an entrance fee."
But something kept holding Jeffrey back.
"I went to college, but the style of education didn't fit well for me. I'd show up every day just to hang out with people. I was a natural networker. It didn't give me a career, but I did have a lot of fun."
Four years later, Jeffrey still had no degree, no career, and no goals.
"I spent the next ten years drifting from one thing to the next. I tried working for my father as plumber and tried several network marketing businesses, but nothing stuck."
A Taste of Success
At age 32, Jeffrey met and married a woman named Peggy. Together, the enterprising couple started a professional cleaning company out of the trunk of his car. Then he met a mentor named Harry Gibbs. All of a sudden, success became part of Jeffrey's life.
Within a few years, Jeffrey and his wife employed nearly 100 people, cleaning offices, malls, hospitals, every commercial site imaginable. With money pouring in, Jeff now had all the trappings of a successful lifestyle: nice house, slick car, the works.
Then, almost overnight, it all collapsed.
"The marriage fell apart; when that happened, the business fell apart too."
Jeffrey lost almost everything. He became depressed and started drifting again from job to job. Again, he tried his hand at several different network marketing businesses, but nothing gelled.
The Turning Point
Eventually Jeffrey began to pursue a serious Buddhist practice, which brought him calmness and focus; soon after that, he met a woman named Gailann Greene.
"At 42, I was broke. I thought I'd have to start flipping burgers or scooping ice cream just to survive but I couldn't bear the thought of doing either."
Gailann sat Jeffrey down for a heart-to-heart talk: she believed in him, she said; he could do anything he set his mind to.
"Feeling how much she believed in me," says Jeffrey, "changed everything."
They joined a network marketing company where they decided to divide and conquer: Jeffrey would recruit and coach people, Gailann would make the presentations. The division of labor worked; their business began to grow.
New Setbacks, New Lessons
Three years later, Gailann had a stroke.
"It was horrible," says Jeffrey. "I was scared for Gailann--and for myself, too, because suddenly, I had to carry the whole business for both of us. The idea of making the presentations myself terrified me."
But Gailann's heart-to-heart had stuck with Jeffrey. Her belief in him had proved to be that crucial missing ingredient, the Rosetta stone Jeffrey had needed all along. Jeffrey picked up the business and ran with it.
"Because I believed in myself now, I was able to devote myself fully to the business. I knew I wouldn't fail."
The business took off. Soon Gailann was able to return to work. Today they continue to work the business together--and it's flourishing.
"We live a great life now," says Jeffrey. "Most people would consider themselves lucky to go to Hawaii every few years; we go for three weeks every year.
"It's funny," he adds: "I realize that every time I've ever had success in the past, it was always because somebody really believed in me. With the cleaning business, it was Harry and Peggy. Today, it's Gailann. The difference is, I finally believe in myself and in my abilities--and now, in turn, I've built a business by believing in others."
KURT INDERBITZIN is a contributing editor to Networking Times.